FF&E, other supply chains face daunting hurdles
FF&E, other supply chains face daunting hurdles
29 JUNE 2020 8:03 AM

As hotels struggle to survive and attention is quite rightly placed on staff, it should not be forgotten that properties are not islands, and there is a lengthy, complicated supply chain that is hurting a great deal, too.

The United Kingdom has reached the realization that companies in the supply chains of hotels and other hospitality businesses are hurting just as much as the hotels themselves.

With demand down for hotels, demand from hotels for FF&E and other supplies is down, too, and if help is not provided to those suppliers, they might not be there when supplies are needed.

The latest help comes in the form of council (local jurisdiction) grants of £10,000 ($12,551), £25,000 ($31,379) or sums of up to £10,000.

In several virtual conferences I have attended (if I attended in the morning, I would be in the spare bedroom; if I attended in the afternoon, I would be at the table in the alcove between the open-plan living room and kitchen, just in case you wanted a visual idea), speakers have said FF&E budgets have been transferred and whittled down to pay rents, skeleton staff and other fixed costs.

There is every chance those FF&E suppliers will receive reduced orders once business returns to some semblance of normal. Is it a case of companies disappearing that just happen to provide those supplies deemed the least necessary in a landscape of reduced demand?

That is the way economics works, but if too much disappears from the supply chain, it could cause the hotel guest experience to become a shadow of what it should be and once was.

The U.K.’s principal hotel-industry membership organization UKHospitality said “support needs to be comprehensive and applied right across the entire scope of the sector, if we are to reopen successfully and keep as many businesses afloat and as many jobs secure as possible.”

Fewer amenities and offerings in hotels would mean the need for fewer people to deliver them at the point of sale.

Hoteliers are getting a clearer picture of their likely guest profile and preferences for the rest of 2020, and that may make procurement decisions easier to make. But hotel companies must retain continued and amiable relationships with their suppliers. One day those services will be needed again, but you cannot order a table from someone who does not make them anymore. Even if a new supplier can step into the vacuum, any change in supply chain will involve additional spend and time.

Improving communication with staff and guests always is brought up at today’s novel form of conferences, but do not forget to continue talking to your suppliers, too.

They likely are hurting as well, and sincere and honest communication never hurts the reputation.

Furlough furor
There also is much talk about companies—and no firm in the hotel industry has been named, or even hinted at—asking their staff to perform work even though those firms have taken advantage of government grants to furlough those employees.

The furlough scheme in the U.K. is paid by taxpayers. They are not loans. Most other financial help must be paid back, but not the furlough scheme, so it baffles the brain why some employers might see having their furloughed staff—who utterly have their eyes locked laser-like on the future that brings no definite security—might think this is an honourable way of conducting their businesses.

Numerous reports about abuse have been reported in the media, including Business Matters, which stated “a third of furloughed employees were asked to carry on doing their usual job, while 29% were told to undertake more administrative tasks. One in five have been asked to either cover someone else’s job or to work for a company linked to their employer while on furlough.”

Maybe some feel justified asking for this in these difficult times, while staff often would say yes due to their feelings of uncertainty.

Anyway, the government has stepped in, and companies who have committed such practices have approximately another 20 days or so to admit to them, or possibly face consequences.

Email Terence Baker or find him on Twitter.

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